Kadmat Island, Lakshadweep

Photo: Lenish Namath [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Lenish Namath [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
The Indian Ocean has some of the most beautiful archipelagos in the world. The Maldives, the Seychelles, and the Quirimbas are high—very high—on beach lovers’ wish lists. People travel thousands of miles to swim, snorkel, and relax on white-sand beaches surrounded by warm, transparent water. But everyone dreams of these places. So you’ve started dreaming of a place they haven’t even heard of yet.

Lakshadweep is still in the Indian Ocean. Its 12 atolls are spread out over 150,000 square miles in the Laccadive Sea, southwest of India. Of its 39 islands, 10 are inhabited and only three are accessible to foreign (mostly Italian) visitors. The Portuguese, the British, and Muslim missionaries all claimed the islands at one point. Now a naval base protects Indian shipping lanes, while sailors, fishermen, and coconut harvesters call the islands home.

After landing on Agatti Island, board a ferry heading northeast. You pass palm-covered islands, hovering petrels, and swooping shearwaters. The blue sky meets the even bluer water on the horizon. A sea breeze and a salty spray keep you cool in the hot sun. Except for the boat’s other passengers, you don’t see anyone else the entire ride.

Photo: Manvendra Bhangui from Chennai, India (Kadmat Island  Uploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: Manvendra Bhangui from Chennai, India (Kadmat Island Uploaded by Ekabhishek) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Kadmat Island, your destination, is just as quiet and peaceful as the boat ride. The 11-kilometer coral island, in the center of the Lakshadweep archipelago, is long and narrow. A reef sits just offshore. The lagoon is clear and shallow. While a small resort, the Kadmat Beach Resort, sits on the southern tip of the island.

The resort is surrounded by a coconut grove, a sparkling beach, and endless turquoise water. Your simple but modern white cottage has a hammock and a view of the lagoon from the porch. Watch dolphins play in the waves as the sun rises each morning. Snorkel among green sea turtles, eagle rays, stingrays, moray eels, and thousands of colorful fish. Go fishing for tuna. Paddle a kayak around the reef. Ride a glass-bottom boat out to where the sharks eat. Then ride a bike around the island, stopping when you smell fish being cooked over coconut husks and see a traditional folk dance being performed.

Like the Maldives, the Seychelles, and the Quirimbas before, Lakshadweep has been a dream trip. You’ll fantasize about the Indian Ocean archipelago for years and plot your eventual return. At least until everyone else catches on.

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